Saturday, October 28, 2023

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: Ron DeSantis’s problem is not that Donald Trump is famous (WaPo, analysis by Philip Bump, October 27, 2023)

Incisive analysis from Philip Bump in The Washington Post, about our jejune juvenile kneejerk maniacal jerk right-wing bumptious Boy Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS, our erstwhile former Congressman from St. Augustine St. Johns County, a corporate tool and any fascist's fool, n as lugubrious a louche goober as ever made a chair squeak -- what do y'all reckon? From The Washington Post: 

Ron DeSantis’s problem is not that Donald Trump is famous

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) visits the Iowa State Fair on the campaign trail earlier this summer. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Back in August, the guy running a super PAC backing the campaign bid of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican primary insistedthat his window to overtake Donald Trump was closing, in 60 days, to be precise.

That was more than 60 days ago. DeSantis, as you may be aware, has not overtaken Trump. In fairness, that was not the DeSantis team setting the deadline. (Speaking in New Hampshire this week, DeSantis said of the comment that “I don’t think very many people think that was a very smart thing to do.”)

But it is a useful metric specifically because it serves as a reminder that DeSantis has gained no ground since the first debate, the occasion on which the target of 60 days was set. Then DeSantis was at 15 percent in the 538 polling average and trailed Trump by 36 points. Now he is at 14 percent and down by over 40 points.

But in an interview with CNN on Thursday, the Florida governor offered a new explanation for his failure to gain ground: Trump is just too darn famous.

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That the interview was even occurring is a mark of how the DeSantis campaign has been languishing. He and his team have long featured antagonism to the traditional press as an organizing tactic. Now scrambling for support, he has reconsidered that approach.

So he sat down with network anchor Kaitlan Collins, who pointedly asked why he was not faring better. She asked why his message is not resonating with voters. “I think it is,” the governor replied, launching into a typical explanation of how individual voters with whom he had spoken seemed to be convinced.

“That is what you got to do,” he said. “You got to show up. Donald Trump’s not willing to show up. He is missing in action right now. He does not show up. When he does show up, he reads off the teleprompter for 50 minutes. And then he gets back on the plane and goes home.”

DeSantis told Collins that soon Trump would not be able to get away with “not putting in the work.” The anchor responded, “Well, right now, he is getting away with what you say is not putting in the work. I mean, he is leading the polls.”

“Yes,” DeSantis replied, “but that is because he is the most famous person running, a 100 percent name ID. He is the person people know.” He claimed in some early states, a lot of Trump support was soft and then offered more anecdotes about individual voters.

There are two problems with his argument. The first is that, as Collins pointed out, there is no indication that Trump not “putting in the work” is actually hurting him. The second is that the argument about Trump and his name ID is wrong. That is not why he leads the polls, just as it was not why he did not lead the polls at this point in 2015.

At the outset of that race, Trump was viewed very negatively by Republicans. But his rhetoric and his recitation of themes from right-wing media turned that around. He was better known, but he managed to convince Republicans to support his candidacy.

So let’s consider the current moment. Polling conducted by YouGov for the Economist shows that DeSantis is viewed more unfavorably than favorably by Americans overall, but favorably by about three-fourths of Republicans.

More Republicans (and more Americans) do have an opinion of Trump. Those opinions are stronger: Most Republicans view Trump very favorably while about half the country views him very unfavorably. (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is included for reasons that will become clear in a moment.)

See the gaps between the two sides of the graphs above? That is the portion of survey respondents who did not have an opinion, generally because they do not know enough about the candidates. So 97 percent of Americans and 99 percent of Republicans have an opinion of Trump, but 91 percent of Republicans also have an opinion of DeSantis.

Only 9 percent say they do not. McConnell, who has led the Senate Republican caucus for over eight years, has nearly twice as many Republicans who do not have an opinion of him. In other words, Trump has a name ID advantage, but nearly every Republican also knows who DeSantis is. They just like him less than Trump.

The YouGov survey of Republican primary preferences shows a similar dynamic. Trump is the choice of nearly 6 in 10 likely primary voters, with two-thirds identifying him as their first or second choice. Only 1 in 8 Republicans say DeSantis is their first pick, but just under half have him as their first or second pick.

Again, this is from a pool of respondents in which almost all have an opinion of both candidates. DeSantis argues there are Republicans whose support for Trump might be soft, which is certainly fair. In national polling conducted by PRRI, over half of Trump supporters said there was theoretically something the he could do to cause them to drop their support.

What that thing is is unclear. For the past eight years, Trump has done lots of things without seeming to do much damage to himself. It is also fair to say early state voters may change their minds in the next few months. Maybe DeSantis has polling showing that Trump support is soft. Maybe they are implementing a plan to leverage that.

The question then becomes: Why has not it worked yet? At the time of the first debate, Trump was up 32 points in the 538 polling average in Iowa. Now he is up 42 points. Is the effort from DeSantis in the state not having an effect? Or did Trump see his name recognition go up?

These are the things that flailing candidates say. They say things like “we are going to turn it around” or “the voters are not paying attention yet” or “the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.” Then they usually lose or drop out. Tell you what: Let’s give DeSantis 60 more days and see what happens.

Philip Bump is a Post columnist based in New York. He writes the newsletter How To Read This Chart and is the author of The Aftermath: The Last Days of the Baby Boom and the Future of Power in America. Twitter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DeSantis problem is not that Trump is famous... it's that Trump is the eventual consequence of right wing propaganda and ideology. DeSanctimonious should reverse that trend in society and not ride the fence.